Alabama and Missouri passed bills to effectively ban and restrict women’s access to abortion on Tuesday, May 14, and Friday, May 17, respectively.
In Alabama, the bill would ban abortions for women, including in cases of rape and incest, and allow them only if the mother’s life was endangered. In Missouri, the bill criminalizes abortions carried out after eight weeks of pregnancy.
Both states’ actions follow a growing trend of state legislatures seeking to tighten control on abortion this year.
Last week in Georgia, a so-called “heartbeat bill” was signed by Gov. Brian Kemp to prohibit abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected. Similar bills were signed in Mississippi and Ohio in March and April, respectively. In Arkansas, Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed a bill banning abortions after 18 weeks of pregnancy. Heartbeat bills have also been introduced in Louisiana, South Carolina and West Virginia.
This legislation has been criticized because heartbeats can usually be heard around six weeks of pregnancy, before most women realize they are pregnant.
Many of these bills, such as Alabama’s, have been criticized for being attempts to reach the Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 case that legalized abortions, as explained by Republican Alabama state Rep. Terri Collins, a proponent of the Alabama bill.
While these states have turned to restricting abortion, other states have been expanding women’s abilities to have abortions. In New York, legislation was passed to make it easier for women to have abortions during later portion of their pregnancies. Nevada and Vermont are currently working to amend legislation to increase protection for abortions.
Despite the passage of these bills, abortion is currently legal in all 50 states. Many organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Planned Parenthood, are also working to challenge the anti-abortion legislation, so these laws will not likely take effect until many years in the court system. Through organized rallies, protests and legal battles, these organizations are seeking to not only prevent the abortion restrictions from being enforced laws, but they are also seeking to protect women’s reproductive rights.
“Our goal is that we are working not only to prevent this bill from going into effect, but also using this energy to actually expand women’s access to reproductive health care,” Georgia’s ACLU executive director Andrea Young said. “It means making sure women have access to reproductive health care at every stage of their life and that it’s affordable and accessible for all.”